Three amnesty options for Capitals

Three amnesty options for Capitals
May 29, 2013, 3:00 pm
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Unlike their future division rivals in Philadelphia [Ilya Bryzgalov], New York [Brad Richards] and Long Island [Rick DiPietro], the Capitals are not in a position where they must decide whether to unload a hefty contract through an amnesty buyout this summer.

“Owners don’t love that,” Caps general manager George McPhee said when asked about compliance buyouts. “We haven’t really discussed that and we haven’t had to do much of that in the past.

“Owners like that.”

For the record, here are some essentials regarding amnesty buyouts and how they work:

There is no minimum threshold.

Prior to this season, the Collective Bargaining Agreement allowed teams to buy out players making a minimum of $3 million per season without it counting against the salary cap.

The Rangers and Canadiens were the only teams to exercise that option, tendering amnesty buyouts to Wade Redden [two years, $10 million] and Scott Gomez [two years, $10 million], respectively.

Beginning this summer there is no salary threshold for players teams wish to amnesty.

Players 26 and older receive two-thirds of their salary in an amnesty buyout. Players under 26 receive one-third of their salary. No part of their contracts is counted against the new $64.3 million salary cap.

In the case of Redden and Gomez, each player signed with other teams at a discounted price. Redden signed a one-year, $800,000 deal with St. Louis and was traded to Boston. Gomez signed a one-year, $700,000 contract with San Jose.

The amnesty buyout period is from 48 hours after the final game of the Stanley Cup Finals until July 4, one day before the July 5 start of unrestricted free agency.

Only contracts agreed upon prior to the new CBA can be amnestied. Teams are granted a maximum of two amnesty buyouts, which can be exercised this summer or next.

A team that amnesties a player cannot reacquire that player in any way for at least one year.

Now that that’s cleared up, whom might the Capitals consider for amnesty buyouts? Here are three possibilities. And remember, the Caps could use none, one or both of their amnesty buyouts this summer:

Martin Erat [2 years, $9 million]. This would be a tough pill to swallow when you consider the Caps gave Nashville one of their top prospects, Filip Forsberg, to acquire Erat.

But $4.5 million is a lot to spend on a 31-year-old veteran who scored just five goals in 45 games this season and has never scored more than 23 goals in any season.

If the Caps let Erat walk and used that money to sign Mike Ribeiro or someone like Brad Richards, it might be an easier sell.

Jeff Schultz [1 year, $2.75 million]. This might be the most practical amnesty buyout on the Capitals’ roster. Schultz seemed worth the investment when the Caps signed him to a four-year, $11 million extension in 2010.

But he’s played in just 80 of the Caps’ 130 games over the past two seasons and is behind Jack Hillen, Steve Oleksy, Tomas Kundratek and Dmitri Orlov on the club’s depth chart and his contract makes him nearly impossible to trade.

Joel Ward [2 years, $6 million]. The Caps probably knew they were overpaying Ward when they signed him two summers ago, but they expected far more than the six goals and 12 assists Ward gave them in his first year with the Caps under Bruce Boudreau and Dale Hunter.

This season was a different story under Adam Oates as Ward managed eight goals and 12 assists in 39 games, and added one goal and three assists in seven playoff games. Ward is a strong presence in the locker room and provides the kind of grit the Caps will need if they want to advance deeper in the playoffs. For those reasons, it seems unlikely the club would cut ties with him.

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